Joywashing: cellphone apps get together for a “joyful adventure”

By Ingrid Fetell Lee

cellphone_joy

I don’t know if some animated characters can make reading emails and making calls into a “Joyful Adventure,” but LG Australia certainly hopes so. The website for their GM730 smartphone features games in which personified apps get together to catch flying emails and do “playful multitasking,” whatever that is.

Looking at the graphic above, it’s clear they’re trying to harness elements of joyful aesthetics: the tiny claymation cupcake village, friendly color palette, cutesy language, and glimmering phone. It’s a Childhood aesthetic, designed to trigger playfulness and nostalgia. But the whole thing is just a gloss on what’s presented as an otherwise ordinary smartphone. The characters, with charmingly original names like “Dialing,” “Contact,” and “Office,” do nothing to highlight unusual features of the phone. They’re just the standard apps, often the ones you wished worked better. Seriously, Dialing? Is that even a feature?

dialing

The TV ad takes the Childhood aesthetic a step further, with puppets whose style clearly references The Muppets and a brightly-colored set that echoes Sesame Street. Another device from Sesame Street used in the ad is the intermingling of puppets and people. It all combines into an aesthetic designed to stimulate our nostalgia and bring a halo of joy to the phone. The ad ends with the line “Joy. Now in a smartphone.” spoken by a V.O. with a laugh in her voice and spelled out in a friendly, rounded typeface. lg_joy

But despite the frenzy of action in the ad, nothing suggests this is any different than any other smartphone. Why will this phone, in particular, make me so happy? Answer the question, and it’s a legitimate claim. But until the emotional claim is backed up with benefits, this represents another great example of the increasingly common, increasingly global advertising phenomenon of joywashing.

Thanks Ben, for the great tip.

August 18th, 2009

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